Some of our readers and listeners can't bring themselves to believe that religion is as bad as we say it is. They say things like, "you spend too much time talking about the negative things and too little about the good things." One person said, "What's so bad about religion? If you had more grace you wouldn't harp on religion so much."
If you have ever visited a prison, you walk away realizing it's a horrible thing to be incarcerated. When you are locked up, you are a slave, you have no freedom. If you know anything about institutionalized incarceration you will also know that inmates learn to depend on and work the system. The system gives them security, it gives them a rhythm to their lives. They know exactly what they can do and not do. Their meals are given to them, the time for exercise is set and their work routines are assigned.
When and if they are released, many ex-convicts have trouble with freedom—they don't know what to do with it. Remember the nation of Israel, held as slaves in Egypt? God gave them their freedom, but many of them wanted to go back. They liked the security of someone giving them three square meals a day, even if it meant being in slavery.
Jesus came to set spiritual prisoners free. He came to make us free in Christ. He sets us free from religious bondage. Perhaps you have been spared from the experience of doing time in a dark spiritual dungeon. Perhaps the only face you have seen of corporate, institutionalized religion is bake sales, soup kitchens and church picnics on lazy, idyllic, long summer days. Maybe you have never been exposed to mind-numbing tirades about the burning coals of hell fire. Maybe you have not experienced religious authorities who prod and push you to give and give and give and do and do and do.